Our Members



Bijal Desai-Ramirez

Urban Sprouts Board Chair

Co-Founder and COO at Filament LLC


Bijal has worked with organizations old and new, large and small, and across sectors for 15+ years.  Over time, she has honed an interdisciplinary perspective and an integrated approach to solving big tangly problems.  Cross-hatch sales, marketing, research and analysis, strategy, organizational development, facilitation, and general management with work in healthcare, consumer packaged goods, education and youth development, diversity and inclusion, and consulting, and you’ll get a glimpse of her unique approach.


Above all, Bijal infinitely cares about people.  She demonstrates this in the way she knows best:  by building stuff – foundations, systems, processes, relationships – to make impact for the betterment of society, communities, workplaces, and life.


Bijal serves on several boards, including the Saint Louis Public Schools Foundation Board and the United Way of Greater St. Louis’ Women’s Leadership Society Cabinet.  She chairs the board of the Urban Sprouts Child Development Center.


Bijal lives in St. Louis’ University City with her spouse, David, their daughter, Sahana, and a second child and pet dog they have yet to adopt. (They’re there in spirit!)



David Desai-Ramirez

Urban Sprouts Board Treasurer

Executive Director - Southern Region at IFF


David Desai-Ramirez provides leadership and manages operations and lending activities in Southern Illinois, Missouri and Kansas.  David is responsible for cultivating relationships, growing the real estate consulting business, and leading loan and real estate services in the Missouri, metro Kansas City, and southern Illinois region.  David joined IFF in January 2015 after 8 years at The DESCO Group where, most recently the Senior Manager of Finance, he was responsible for all portfolio finance functions including valuation, risk management, treasury and capitalization of the roughly $650M commercial real estate portfolio.  During his tenure, David negotiated, structured and closed over $300M across more than 30 loans.


David has a B.S. in Bioengineering from Rice University, an M.B.A with a concentration in Finance from the Olin Business School at Washington University. David taught 8th grade math in Houston Independent School District for three years prior to graduate school, which to this day is one of his favorite career experiences.


David serves on various boards and committees, including for the Gateway Center for Giving – Finance, COCA – Associate Board, Urban Sprouts Early Childhood Center – Treasurer, KC Healthy Food Access Task Force, Community Builders Network – Civic Capacity, and the United Way of Greater St. Louis’ Allocation Panel – Youth Development.  He has also served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for a child in St. Louis County for the past two years. 


David is an enthusiastic husband and father and enjoys traveling (especially abroad), reading, playing basketball, cooking, learning, and most of all a good conversation.



Naretha A. Hopson

Urban Sprouts External Affairs Committee Member

Founder and Executive Director at Ever-Appropriate Etiquette Institute


Naretha Hopson is the founder and Executive Director of Ever-Appropriate Etiquette Institute. She is a Certified Etiquette Instructor with a passion for improving society through the art of civility and social graces. Studies show that individuals who are exposed to quality etiquette training posses a sharp advantage for success in business and daily activities. Successful Corporate Executives understand that Etiquette & Leadership Development training is essential in building professional confidence, making a polished impression and solidifying accomplishment with every business encounter. Naretha empowers individuals with mastery of soft skills to accompany talent, commitment of today's professional. In addition, she specializes in providing interactive training modules which educate children and young adults including those from under-served communities. 


For many years, community development has been an integral part of Ms. Hopson's life, serving as a volunteer for numerous organizations (such as the United Way and Urban League) and their initiatives.


Ms. Hopson is also an emerging civic leader, serving on several boards including Young Professional Boards of St. Louis Crisis Nursery and St. Louis Zoo, National Coalition of 100 Black Women-St Louis, Development Committee KIPP Inspire Academy. She is also an appointed cabinet member of Mayor Francis Slay's Vanguard Board.


Naretha is a graduate of the Focus St. Louis-Leadership St. Louis Program. She is was recently selected to participate in the Consortium for Leadership Development. Ms. Hopson is also an appointed member of the Regional Business Council- Young Professional Network Leadership 100.



Gloria Reed

Urban Sprouts Internal Affairs Chair

Human Resources Leader at SSM Health


Gloria has over 10 years of combined experience in healthcare and retail management and Human Resources Leadership.  She is viewed as a valuable business partner with the ability to combine business strategy with human capital competencies.  She is passionate about employee engagement and purpose driven work and is glad to work for organizations that strive to create an exceptional experience for both their customers and their employees.


Gloria holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology and business from Truman State University and is nearly finished with her master of business administration degree from the University of Missouri, St. Louis.  


While not at work, Gloria spends time with her husband working on restoring their historic Shaw home and chasing around their three children and a dog.  She is thrilled that all three of her children have been able to be part of the Urban Sprouts family.